Wedding Sites & Services Blog

Holly’s Hot Wedding Tips: Planning a Medieval Wedding - by Adventures in Dance

Getting married can be enchanting, and having a themed wedding can be even more magical. While writing my books on ‘Experiencing History through the Cartoon Princesses’, I had the opportunity to look at what went into a medieval wedding. I am going to look at medieval wedding traditions through the wedding of Robin Hood and Maid Marion.

Denver wedding church

To begin we will look at some fun medieval wedding facts. First, weddings were a contract outside of the church, but everyone wanted the minister to bless the marriage, so they would congregate outside the church on a Sunday to have the minister bless the contract, then go in for a mass. Second, they did not have a great way to keep records, so they would make a big production with processions, music and merrymaking so the whole town would remember that the couple had gotten married.

Wedding at the Colorado renaissance festival

Elements of a Medieval Wedding

  1. Invitations – Prepare invitations on parchment paper with a traditional gothic print. This will be the first step in setting the mood for your event.
  2. The Dress – Medieval brides liked to wear blue or green dresses. Blue was the color of purity, and green was the color of love. As a modern bride, you are welcome to pick your favorite color, and choose a medieval style gown.
  3. Wreaths and Garlands – Many of the herbs and flowers were associated with a successful union, and would be wound into wreaths worn over the brides veil with their hair loose underneath, or given as gifts to guests ( to help them smell better )
  4. Wedding Party – The wedding party would dress similar to the bride and groom to ward off evil spirits. Invite your party to don medieval garb, setting the stage for a memorable experience. Encourage your guests to join in the spirit by dressing as well.
  5. Music – Pick medieval music for your processional. There are more options than ‘just’ Gregorian church chants. Look for music by Guillaume de Machaut, Troubadours, Chrétien de Troyes, and Francesco Landini.
  6. Medieval Vows – Late fourteenth-century ritual from the Abbey of Barbeau:

"(Name), I take you to be my wife and I espouse you; and I commit to you the fidelity and loyalty of my body and my possessions; and I will keep you in health and sickness and in any condition it please our Lord that you should have, nor for worse or for better will I change towards you until the end" — Stevenson 75

Tying the knot medieval wedding

  1. Feast – A a medieval wedding tradition is Bride’s Pye. It was considered essential to the couple’s future happiness. Bride’s Pie is a large round pie with an elaborately decorated pastry crust that concealed a filling of oysters, pine kernels, cockscombs, lamb stones, sweet breads and spices. A ring would be placed in the pie, and the lady who found it was the next to marry. Dinner would have entailed a lavish multi-course meal…pigeon pie, woodcock and sturgeon, accompanied by wine and ale aplenty, dark bread and cheeses, as well as a vast array of seasonal fruits and vegetables (check below for recipes).
  2. Dancing – Traditional medieval dances include chain dances and carol dances. There are many great medieval dances and you can find them in my historically accurate cartoon princess dances.

Medieval banquet

Recipes

Dinner re-created for today by Swede Tomazin:

For Robin Hood and Maid Marion’s nuptials (appropriate for the time period and region). Dinner is two courses and incorporates foods and spices commonly eaten by the upper class during the colder months. I’ve also included updated recipes for those who like to cook and want to sample a bit of history.

The feast (for eight) commences with the beverage OXYMEL, which dates back at least as far as classical Rome: a mix of vinegar, honey and water (if left alone too long, it would ferment). To make a pitcher, dissolve 2T wine vinegar and a quarter cup of honey in 2qts water.

Choice bread of the evening is PANDEMAYNE: The finest of white breads, reminiscent of today’s sourdough. Buy a loaf or two! It’s far easier than making.

Medieval couple

First Course

Hen In Winter:
Roasted chicken and sauce

~To make chicken, brush with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 375 until it reaches an internal temperature of 180 and juices run clear.

~For sauce you will need…1oz fresh sage, 1 garlic clove, salt and pepper to taste and 2-3 T water.

Grind sage and garlic in a mortar, then combine with other ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2min. Serve with chicken.

 

Salad:
Greens and herbs with a simple oil and vinegar dressing

~Combine 2 T olive oil, 2 T wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Mix with 4 cups mixed greens and 1-2 oz. mixed herbs.

 

Chyches:
Spiced legumes such as chickpeas, fava beans, or lentils

~To make beans, drain two 15oz cans chickpeas (or beans of choice) and combine with 2 T olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic. Season with coriander, salt and pepper to taste.  May add 1 oz fresh minced parsley as well.  Bake at 350 for 30-40min.

 

Medieval Knight and Lady

Second Course

Salted Pork Belly:
At that time of year, meat would have been in short supply. Pork salts easily, and taxation records in that given period showed that nearly every household had some form of preserved pork.

~To make pork, salt two strips of pork belly (about 1 Lb per strip with 2 tsp salt).  In a separate bowl, combine 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp white pepper, 1 T soy sauce, 1T rice wine and 1 T honey.  Mix well.  Add the two strips of pork belly to the marinade and massage into the meat.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 48 hours.  When finished marinating, heat oven to 350.  Set pork belly on a wire rack in a baking dish and bake for 60 min or until no longer pink.  Flip the strips of pork belly to the other side halfway through baking time.  When done baking, set aside to cool for ten minutes before slicing.

 

A Dish of Leeks:
Leeks were a commonly consumed vegetable in that period.

~To make, slice 5 large leeks in half, rinse thoroughly and cut into 1inch slices and rinse again.  Place slices in a baking dish with 4 T melted butter, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper.  Bake at 400 for 30 min or until leeks are tender.  Or, melt butter in a large saucepan and cook on gentle heat for 15min or until tender.  Then season with spices.

 

Pottage Of Rice:
Spiced rice with almond milk

~To make, cook 1 cup of short grain brown rice per instructions.  In a saucepan, combine cooked rice with 2 cups thick almond milk, 1 T honey and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook gently until liquid is mostly absorbed.

 

Medieval wedding guests wizard and ladies

Dessert

Mincemeat Pie

After doing some extensive research, I decided on Mincemeat Pie. It is of British origin and its ingredients are traceable back to the 13th century. And while it is typically served during the Christmas season, I think the warm combination of spices and dried fruits best compliment the occasion and could be considered a “modernized” version of Bride's Pie. Let me know your thoughts…

Hobbit and fairy

Mincemeat Pie ingredients:

2/3 cup raisins

2/3 cup golden raisins

2/3 cup currants

2/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup finely chopped blanched almonds

1/2 cup finely chopped minced candied citrus peel

1/4 cup finely chopped beef suet

3 Tablespoons Cognac

1.5 Tablespoons dark rum

1 tsp grated orange zest

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cloves

1/8 tsp cinnamon

Pinches of mace

Pinches of ginger

1 Granny Smith apple, finely chopped

Grated zest and juice of one lemon

Pre-made pie crust

Wedding at the Colorado Renaissance Festival

*In a bowl, combine raisins, golden raisins, currants, brown sugar, almonds, citrus peel, beef suet, cognac, rum, orange zest, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, mace, ginger, apple, lemon zest, lemon juice. Mix well.

Transfer mixture to a 1qt jar. Cover and refrigerate for two days to two weeks.
Prepare pie crust, and add filling.
Heat oven to 350 and bake until golden, about one hour.

 

Now you have the start to planning your medieval wedding. For more tips read "Experience history through the Cartoon Princess weddings."
Have a red letter day (old medieval saying)!

Many thanks to Holly Collins from Adventures in Dance for this blog. For personal dance instruction, coaching or adult dance classes and lessons in the Rocky Mountains, Metro Denver, and Ken Caryl, please visit them here.

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